Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Product Review: The Body Shop Mango Products

Recently, my friend Sidnie made her beauty blogging debut by reviewing two new holiday sets from C. O. Bigelow (reviews here and here). I was so proud of her posts that I asked her to write another, this time for The Body Shop's Mango Time Out gift set, which I was sent earlier this week. Extra props go to Sidnie for reviewing this when she probably should have been writing her senior thesis!

Finals time in college for me usually means choosing between sleep and bathing, but armed with new products to test and a sense of duty, I chose the latter and headed off to the showers. I tested a gift set from The Body Shop which included Mango Body Scrub, Mango Shower Gel and the their famous Mango Body Butter, as well 2 exfoliant gloves and a little glycerin soap. I have to admit that to date I have not used the glycerin soap, which I expect is more a sort of added bonus to the gift set than a product that would truly knock my socks off. I use antibacterial soap and then I had all of that shower gel, so there was little room for that tiny soap.

The Mango line is meant for very dry skin, which I definitely have. I’m a West Coast runaway living in New England and at this time of year, when I’m regularly getting smacked in the face with something called “wintry mix” I wonder why I ever left, and that same cold, in collaboration with my super-dry house, has certainly taken a toll on my skin.

After shaving, I started with the scrub. I’m not sure if that’s the proper order; I don’t know much about this beauty stuff at all really, but it seemed counter-productive to try to exfoliate hairy legs. I put on the exfoliant gloves and got to business. I have to say, I felt a little silly standing in the shower stark naked save for two orange gloves and trying to position myself so that I could get at my scaly legs, and dip my hands into this tub of scrub without getting too much water in it. The scrub smells amazing and is this pretty, fresh orange color. The sugary granules applied with the gloves certainly works to exfoliate, but the sensation isn’t all that pleasant; imagine rubbing yourself down with some sandpaper. I moved on to the shower gel stage feeling rug-burned.

I was really skeptical about the shower gel- the bottle I received was only 8.4 fluid ounces, so I thought I could probably run through it in a week. Not so- the little spigot only allows a little to come out of the bottle, and a little is all you need because it really lathers up. Like the scrub, this smells delicious.

I have to air one more small frustration at this point with the Body Shop- under a title of "MADE WITH PASS!ON" was a paragraph detailing how “for years, Indian women have been rubbing the kernels from the velvety mango onto their skin to keep it soft”. First of all; this shower gel, aside from smelling a little like mango, is not comparable to that. It would have been purchased in a shopping mall and it contains a myriad of ingredients and very little actual mango. If mango worked best, why not just head to the Stop n’ Shop and really do it? What I’m left with, then, is that I should somehow feel connected to Indian women because we both slather our bodies with mango-esque products. I find this ethnocentric, patronizing, and trite. Not to mention the danger this poses of exoticizing the Eastern woman. I chalked this up to the fact that I had been studying too much International Relations and moved on to the body butter after toweling off.

I have shopped at the Body Shop on-and-off for years now, feeling worldly as a teenager because I could buy both my Stop AIDS bracelet and lip balm at the same location. I consider the body butter to be their premiere product and they carry 18 different types, ranging from hemp to the holiday cranberry and vanilla spice, all categorized by how dry your skin is. I used the body butter at the end of this process in varying amounts; first liberally and then as a slight veil over my skin. I would definitely recommend using this sparingly; even with dry skin this left my skin greasy. I remained greasy the following day and actually felt the product wash off the following evening in the shower. It helped my skin, but it was slightly gross. It also got all over my sheets, which are luckily a mango color anyway, but I wouldn’t suggest getting them on a high thread count or your silk sheets. I assume some of the butters intended for less dry skin may have less of a greasy effect.

The set is pretty and it certainly works to hydrate skin and make it softer, even tough skin like mine. Curel is still my gold standard for hydration, but you’re not going to buy that for a holiday gift (my general rule is refrain from wrapping and placing under the tree things I have purchased at a drug store). The regimen would be great to use once a week as a treat, and the shower gel could be used all the time. Meg and I agreed one could use the body butter on feet with toasty socks over to protect sheets. The packaging is a bit of a problem; the butter and scrub both strike me as too thick to place in a pump bottle, which is probably why they are in tubs. I made sure my hands were very clean in applying the butter, as I was just dipping my hands in, touching my body and then dipping back in, making the tub a breeding ground for bacteria. Overall, when used sparingly (and I’d suggest using the gloves with less rigor) this is a nice set for a person who likes to pamper themselves.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on a good post - you and meg seem to share that talent!

kelly said...

Good post! You captured a lot of my own frustrations with the Body Shop, though I will not be able to abandon the body butter.

That said, everyone needs to stop using antibacterial products. Regular soap and proper washing kills bacteria, and if you're still not convinced your hands are clean, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the best bet. The amounts of antibacterial compound in antibacterial soap is miniscule -- i.e. not enough to be effective -- and really just builds bacteria's resistance. Use of these products contributes to the drug-resistant superbacteria that are shaping up to be a major health problem.

Wow, sorry, that was ranty. I did really like your post, honest, and I hope you will write more.

Anonymous said...

FYI, generally, you should use body scrub right before shaving. It helps exfoliate dead skin cells (ew!) which can cause razor burn and less-than-smooth skin. Exfoliating will eliminate razor burn and yucky bumps from shaving.

Heather said...

I love Sidnie's posts!

Anonymous said...

Yay for the antibacterial rant!! PEOPLE - YOU DO NOT need all the antibacterial products on the market, basic common sense hygeine is sufficient for the home and may be beneficial in building up a person's immune system (the Hygeine theory, not yet proven or disproven) and in preventing super bug resistance. we learn about this in Med school. Its a marketing ploy basically.

Good post!